The Rosary: The Finding in the Temple

JMJ

The Fifth Joyous Mystery contemplates the time when, as a child, Christ lingered in Jerusalem after his parents had departed for home. The Gospel text relates that they were traveling with a party so large they assumed he was someplace out of sight and didn’t discover he was gone until three days into their homeward journey.  When they got back to Jerusalem they found him teaching in the Temple and he said: “Didn’t you know I would be about my father’s business?” (“Wist ye not,” it says in the Authorized Version.) This event in the childhood of Christ is not commemorated liturgically at all in the West. It only comes up here in the Rosary.

There is, however, a feast in the East called “Midpentecost”. It is celebrated at the half-way point between Pascha and Pentecost, the 4th Wednesday after Pascha. It has no real scriptural warrant: the Gospel used is of Christ crying out “in the middle of the feast” which, of course, would be only the one-week long feast of Passover. But the icon used is “Christ Among the Doctors” which is of the youth Christ – in other words, it’s an icon of the Mystery of the Finding of Christ in the Temple. The liturgical hymns for this feast – such as I’ve used below – are taken from various events in the scriptures as you will see from the texts I used below.

The feast itself is made up: a conflation of events to make a point. That’s not a bad thing; the West does it as well with feasts for the Motherhood of Mary, the Holy Eucharist, and even Trinity Sunday.  The feasts of the Church’s Calendar are not all tied to an historical event that happened on that specific day. The entire Calendar is a teaching tool, an icon, if you will. The Truth of Christ revealed in the Calendar is the reason for the Calendar.

When praying this mystery the embolism I use is:

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, teaching the Elders in the Temple. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Fifth Joyous Mystery:
The Finding of Christ in the Temple

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, after having lost her beloved son in Jerusalem, sought him for the space of three days; and at length found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the Doctors, hearing them, and asking them questions.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

The Wisdom of God stands teaching and refuting the unbelieving Pharisees and Scribes, crying out to them with boldness.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Jesus was in the Temple teaching, saying to the doubting Jews, One who thirsts, let them come to me and drink living, eternal water, and they will not thirst for ever.
Hail, Mary, &c.

At thy teaching, O Saviour, the Jews asked, ‘How does this man know letters, never having learned?’ They knew not that thou art the Wisdom ordering the world.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Sending out the rays of thy Godhead, O Christ, thou art a feast of joy for the saved and the cause of our salvation.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Judge not according to appearance, O Scribes and Elders, said the Master, as he stood teaching in the temple, as it is written, at the mid-point of the feast according to the law.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Judge not according to appearance, O Elders and Pharisees: Christ has come, whom the Prophets declared would come from Sion, and call back the world.
Hail, Mary, &c.

If ye believe not my, O Jews, I will show you my Works: why dost thou err, rejecting the Holy One of whom Moses wrote in the Law?
Hail, Mary, &c.

Messiah must surely come, O Jews, and now Messiah has come! So why dost thou err, ejecting the Just One, of whom Moses wrote in the Law?
Hail, Mary, &c.

Standing in the Temple, O Christ, thou spakest with the Jewish people, revealing thy glory, and showing that thou are consubstantial with the Father.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Opening thy lips, O Master, thou proclaimest thine immaculate Father together with the all-holy Spirit, being with them of one nature even after the incarnation. Completing thy Father’s plan, thine own words were confirmed by thy works, O Saviour.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O most blessed Virgin, more than martyr in thy sufferings, and yet the comfort of such as are afflicted: by that unspeakable joy wherewith thy soul was filled when at length thou didst find thy dearly beloved son in the Temple, teaching in the midst of the Doctors, obtain of him that we may so seek him and find him in his Holy Orthodox Catholic Church as never more to be separated from him. Amen.

The Rosary: The Presentation

JMJ

Candlemas is one of my favourite feasts. The following from the Catholic Encyclopedia shares a little bit of the history of the feast:

According to the Roman Missal the celebrant after Terce, in stole and cope of purple colour, standing at the epistle side of the altar, blesses the candles (which must be of beeswax). Having sung or recited the five orations prescribed, he sprinkles and incenses the candles. Then he distributes them to the clergy and laity, whilst the choir sings the canticle of Simeon, “Nunc dimittis”. The antiphon “Lumen ad revelationem gentium et gloriam plebis tuæ Israel” is repeated after every verse, according to the medieval custom of singing the antiphons. During the procession which now follows, and at which all the partakers carry lighted candles in their hands, the choir sings the antiphon “Adorna thalamum tuum, Sion”, composed by St. John of Damascus, one of the few pieces which, text and music, have been borrowed by the Roman Church from the Greeks. The other antiphons are of Roman origin. The solemn procession represents the entry of Christ, who is the Light of the World, into the Temple of Jerusalem. It forms an essential part of the liturgical services of the day, and must be held in every parochial church where the required ministers can be had. The procession is always kept on 2 February even when the office and Mass of the feast is transferred to 3 February. Before the reform of the Latin liturgy by St. Pius V (1568), in the churches north and west of the Alps this ceremony was more solemn. After the fifth oration a preface was sung. The “Adorna” was preceded by the antiphon “Ave Maria”. While now the procession is held inside the church, during the Middle Ages the clergy left the church and visited the cemetery surrounding it. Upon the return of the procession a priest, carrying an image of the Holy Child, met it at the door and entered the church with the clergy, who sang the canticle of Zachary, “Benedictus Dominus Deus Israel”. At the conclusion, entering the sanctuary, the choir sang the responsory, “Gaude Maria Virgo” or the prose, “Inviolata” or some other antiphon in honour of the Blessed Virgin.

The mention of the pagan feast of the Lupercalia is because of the lamentable German Protestant “scholars” and their anti-Catholicism attempting to show that every Christian tradition handed down was really a pagan custom.

The Blessing of Candles has found its way into the Slavonic (at least) Orthodox practice. One source indicates that the Ukrainians may have brought it into the Orthodox Church (from Rome) and thence to the other Slav churches.  I remember being quite surprised at seeing the blessing of Candles in my OCA parish, but the west got the Feast from the East – at least some backwash is seen to happen as well.  The Russians also took bells and their blessings from the West.

Below I have woven in texts from the services of February 2nd in the Byzantine Rite – mostly from Vespers the night before.  When contemplating this Mystery while walking, I add an embolism like this:

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, presented by thee in the Temple. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Fourth Joyous Mystery:
The Presentation of Christ in the Temple

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, on the day of her Purification, presented the Child Jesus in the Temple, where holy Simeon, giving thanks to God, with great devotion received him into his arms.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Now let the heavenly gate be opened. God the Word, begotten beyond time from the Father, has been born from a Virgin, taking flesh, for as he is good he wishes to call back mortal nature and set it at the Father’s right hand.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Word uncircumscribed, above all being, who rides in glory on the heavenly thrones, Simeon takes into his arms and cries, ‘Now release me, according to thy word, my Saviour, the salvation and delight of the faithful’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

When he saw thee, the Word begotten from the Father before the ages, as an infant, wondrous Simeon cried out, ‘I quake and tremble to hold thee in my hands, my Master. But, I beg thee, now release thy servant in peace, for thou art compassionate’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Today the holy Mother, who is higher than the Holy Place, has come to the Holy Place, revealing to the world the Maker of the world and the Giver of the law. Simeon the Elder took him in his arms and cried with veneration, ‘Now release thy servant. For I have seen thee, the Saviour of our souls’.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Hail, full of grace, Virgin Mother of God, for from thee there dawned the Sun of righteousness, Christ our God, who enlightens those in darkness. Be glad too, righteous Elder, for thou receivest in thy embrace the Liberator of our souls, who grants us also resurrection.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Say, Simeon, whom dost thou carry in thy arms, as thou rejoicest in the temple? To whom dost thou cry and shout aloud, ‘Now I have been set free. For I have seen my Saviour’? ‘This is he who was born from a Virgin. This is the Word, God from God, incarnate for our sake and who saves mankind. Hail, Mary, &c.

Receive, Simeon, the One whom Moses in the dark cloud saw of old giving the Law on Sinai, now become a babe and subject to the Law. This is he who spoke through the Law. This is he who was told of in the Prophets, incarnate for our sake and who saves mankind.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Come, let us too, with songs inspired, go to meet Christ. Let us receive him, whose salvation Simeon saw. This is he whom David proclaimed, and who spoke through the Prophets, was incarnate for our sake and who proclaims by the Law.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Let heaven’s gate be opened today. For he who is without beginning, the Word of the Father, taking a beginning in time, yet not abandoning his godhead, is being willingly brought into the temple of the law as a babe of forty days by a Virgin Mother, and the Elder receives him in his arms.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The servant cries to the Master, ‘Release me, for my eyes have seen thy salvation’. Thou hast come into the world to save the human race. Lord, glory be to thee! Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Holy Virgin, most admirable example and pattern of obedience, who didst present the Lord of the Temple in the Temple of God, obtain for us, of thy Blessed Son, that, with holy Simeon and devout Anna, we may praise and glorify Him forever. Amen.

The Rosary: The Nativity

By way of introduction to the Third Joyous Mystery of the Rosary, please remember the scripture: Jesus was born in to a family that owned its own business. Jesus was born in a manger not because no inn would house a poor pregnant woman, but rather because the inns were full. Church tradition tells us that Joseph was chosen by Mary’s family because he was wealthy enough to care for her. He was much older than she, having at least one fully grown son already. Some traditional images of the holy family show St Joseph with grey hair. Please get all that modern political theory about a poor homeless family out of your Christmas meditations.

The Third Joyous Mystery: The Nativity

Let us contemplate, in the Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, when the time for her delivery was come, brought forth our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, at midnight, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for Him in the inns of Bethlehem.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Christ is born, glorify him! Christ comes from heaven, meet him! Christ is upon earth, rejoice! Sing to the Lord all the earth; and let all raise the hymn with joy, for he has been glorified.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Shepherds abiding in the fields had a vision of light which filled them with fear; for the glory of the Lord shone round them and an Angel crying aloud: Sing praises, for Christ is born.
Hail, Mary &c.

At the word of the Angel the armies of heaven cried out: Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to men of good will.
Hail, Mary &c.

To the Son begotten of the Father without change before the ages, and in these latter times without seed incarnate of a Virgin, to Christ God let us cry out: Holy art thou O Lord!
Hail, Mary &c.

The Magi, called by a star, are the first fruits of the gentiles brought to thee as an infant in a manger; sceptres and thrones did not astonish them, but utter poverty; for what is meaner than a cave, what is more humble than swaddling clothes?
Hail, Mary &c.

Let heaven rejoice and let earth be glad the Lamb of God is born on earth, granting redemption to the world. The Word who is in the bosom of the Father comes forth from the Virgin without seed.
Hail, Mary &c.

Rod of the stem of Jesse’s and it’s blossom forth, O Christ, thou springest from the Virgin, the shadowed covered mountain; thou art incarnate from her who knewest not wedlock, and are yet God not formed of matter!
Hail, Mary &c.

As thou art God of peace and Father of mercies, thou hast sent us thine Angel of great counsel, who granting us peace; so guided by the knowledge of God, watching before dawn we glorify thee, only lover of mankind’.
Hail, Mary &c.

Christ our God, whom the Father begot from the womb before the morning star and who holds the reins of the immaculate Powers, is laid in a manger of dumb beasts; he is swaddled in rags, but looses the tangled cords of our sins.
Hail, Mary &c.

A young child has been born from Adam’s race: a Son given to believers; this is the Father and Ruler of the world to come, the Angel of great counsel; the mighty God who holds by his authority all creation.
Hail, Mary &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.


O pure Mother of God, through thy virginal and most joyful delivery, whereby thou gavest to the world thine only Son, our Saviour, obtain for us, we beseech thee, through thine intercession, the grace to lead such pure and holy lives in this world that we may become worthy to sing, without ceasing, the mercies of thy Son, and His benefits to us given by thee. Amen.

The Rosary: The Visitation

JMJ

The second of the five Joyous Mysteries is known as the Visitation and commemorates the visit of our Blessed Lady to St Elizabeth, the mother of the Forerunner, John Baptist.  The Visitation is a later-comer to the Calendar and devotional life of the Western Church, having been introduced by St Bonaventure in 1263. The Franciscans, in their devotions to the Ever-Virgin, spread the feast throughout the Church. It was extended to the entire Western Church by Pope Urban VI. The feast, with a vigil and an octave, was assigned to 2 July, the day after the octave of St. John, about the time when Mary returned to Nazareth. It did not arrive in the liturgical East until the mid-19th Century, and it is not, even now, widely celebrated. It is reported to have a service approved for use in the Orthodox Church, but no amount of Googling could find the text of the service, just copies of the same report over and over.

As is related in the Gospel text, when Mary said “Shalom!” the infant prophet, still in the womb of his mother, leapt for joy. Hearing of the baby’s action in utero the Blessed Virgin Mary uttered her poem in praise of God, the Magnificat. In the Byzantine rite, this is the Matins Gospel for nearly all the feasts of the Theotokos. The Magnificat is sung as the 9th Ode of the Canon in every Matins service as it also is part of every Vespers in the West. Even though in most Byzantine parochial practice all the other parts of the Canon get skipped for expediency, the 9 Ode is still sung in full.  Since this form is familiar to most users of the Byzantine rite, I will use it for the meditation on this mystery.

When away from a prayerbook and praying this mystery, I use the embolism as below.

Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, bring joy even within thy womb. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

As before, the introductory comment and the closing prayer comes from The St Ambrose Prayerbook, available from Lancelot Andrewes Press.

The Second Joyous Mystery: The Visitation

Let us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the Blessed Virgin Mary, understanding from the Angel that her cousin St Elizabeth, had conceived, went in haste into the mountains of Judea to visit her, and remained with her three months.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen 

My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden. For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

For he that is mighty hath magnified me; and holy is his Name. And his mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
Hail, Mary, &c.

He hath showed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek;.He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He remembering his mercy hath holpen his servant Israel; as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

O thou who from thy virginal loins ineffably lentest a body unto the Luminary that was before the sun, even God, Who hath dawned upon us, and dwelt among us in the body: O blessed and all-pure Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

He that made the water to gush from the cloven rock for the disobedient people, to our joy granteth thee to the obedient nations as the fruit of barren loins.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

O abrogation of the harsh ancient sentence, uprighting of our first mother, cause of God’s kinship with our race, and bridge unto the Creator: O Theotokos, thee do we magnify.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

Thou art the mystical paradise, O Theotokos; for that thou, being untilled, didst bud forth Christ, by Whom was planted on earth the life-giving tree of the Cross.
Hail, Mary, &c. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O Holy Virgin, spotless Mother of humility, by that exceeding love which moved thee to visit thy holy cousin St Elizabeth, obtain for us, through thine intercession, that our hearts being visited by thy divine Son, and freed from all sin we may praise and thank Him for ever. Amen.

The Rosary: Closing Prayers & Suggestions

When praying the Rosary, it is traditional to do one set of five mysteries (eg, The Joyous Mysteries) – also known as five decades – at a time, although another pious practice is to do three Mysteries a day as a minimum.  My personal practice is five decades a day, although I do not get them all at once (more on that below).  At the end of the last decade, including the concluding Gloria, it is traditional to end your Rosary with these prayers:

The Salve Regina 

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Hail, our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry,
Poor banished children of Eve;
To thee do we send forth our sighs,
Mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving,
O sweet Virgin Mary.

℣. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God,
℟. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ, thy Son.

O GOD, Who by the life, death, and resurrection of Thy only-begotten Son, hath purchased for us the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating on these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

℣. May the Divine Help remain with us always,
℟. And with those who are absent from us.

℣. May the souls of the faithful through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
℟. Amen.

In my own practice I end each set of five decades this way, but if I have to stop “in the middle” as it were, I  say instead, only this prayer, which is the oldest known prayer to the Blessed Virgin (dating back at least to 250 AD):

Under thy protection we flee, O Holy Theotokos; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.

There are various traditions of how to pray this and on what days to pray what.  You can see various suggestions around the net.  I stick with doing the Glorious Mysteries on Sunday, and starting the Joyous Mysteries on Monday.  However:

The traditional Dominican Rosary, as we have it today, with the three sets of five decades as we have included it in this series, is the method of praying the rosary that survived the middle ages.  There were other methods at that time: I’ve heard one scholar say that at one time there were 150 different mysteries, one “Ave” for each.  I don’t know about that… but the point is made that the Rosary went through an evolution before Dominic de Guzman and his Preachers made it popular in a standard form.  It survived that way for nearly 775 years, until Pop John Paul suggested five more mysteries.  I will continue this in a new post, but I think JPII’s additional mysteries actually make the Rosary more Orthodox and so I think they should be included.  Thus I pray:

Monday: the Joyous Mysteries
Tuesday: the Luminous Mysteries
Wednesday: the Dolorous Mysteries
Thursday: The Glorious Mysteries
Friday: The Dolorous Mysteries
Saturday: The Joyous (and/or the Luminous) Mysteries
Sunday: The Glorious Mysteries

The Rosary: The Coronation of the Blessed Virigin

Our Lady’s coronation by her divine Son as Queen of Heaven is, in fact, the second coronation in the Rosary: the first being that of her Son, himself, by the Romans; but where the Virgin receives a crown of twelve stars from Jesus, he, at the hand of his fellow men, received a crown of thorns.  Jesus entire ministry was taking man into divinity.  Our nature, the stuff of which we are made – each of us, born of woman, born in pain between blood and feces – is raised up to God that we might follow and, here, Mary is the first.

She was the first to carry within her body the God-Man in the flesh: as we do now, after communion, also carry his flesh and blood.  She was the first to open fully her life to the Holy Ghost, as we do (or try to do) daily. She was the first to know the Incarnation, to dance in the new gavotte that God was calling.  And so she is the first to be fully divinized, fully en-theosed, to be crowned in heaven.

We to, if we dare, can be filled with the Holy Ghost, bear Christ in our bodies to the world, only fall asleep, never die, and be crowned in heaven. But only if we dare to take God by the hand and dance.   Yet, more than just a prophetic sign for us, Mary is Queen of Heaven and of each of us if we will let her reign.  Her coronation is her confirmation: she is mother of the Church, the untilled field from when sprang the divine wheat, she is the fount of wisdom, the unhewn mountain, the multiplier of wheat, the way shower, the gate through which the king has passed.  The titles continue for pages and pages.

I’ve taken the verses from the Akathist to the Blessed Virgin which would be a bit long-winded if one were reading these texts as part of a full, five- or fifteen-decade devotional, but as a meditation on this one mystery, they make perfect sense.

The embolism I use for walking or private prayer is: and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, crowning thee Queen of heaven and Queen of my heart.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery:
The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven.

LET us contemplate, in this Mystery how the glorious Virgin Mary was, to the great jubilee and exultation of the whole court of heaven, and particular glory of all the Saints, crowned by Her Son with the brightest diadem of glory.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

To Thee, the Champion Leader, we Thy servants dedicate a feast of victory and of thanksgiving as ones rescued out of sufferings, O Theotokos: but as Thou art one with might which is invincible, from all dangers that can be do Thou deliver us, that we may cry to Thee: Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Rejoice, Thou through whom joy will shine forth: Rejoice, Thou through whom the curse will cease! Rejoice, recall of fallen Adam: Rejoice, redemption of the tears of Eve! Rejoice, height inaccessible to human thoughts: Rejoice, depth undiscernible even for the eyes of angels! Rejoice, for Thou art the throne of the King: Rejoice, for Thou bearest Him Who beareth all! Rejoice, star that causest the Sun to appear: Rejoice, womb of the Divine Incarnation! Rejoice, Thou through whom creation is renewed: Rejoice, Thou through whom we worship the Creator! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, initiate of God’s ineffable will: Rejoice, assurance of those who pray in silence! Rejoice, beginning of Christ’s miracles: Rejoice, crown of His dogmas! Rejoice, heavenly ladder by which God came down: Rejoice, bridge that conveyest us from earth to Heaven! Rejoice, wonder of angels sounded abroad: Rejoice, wound of demons bewailed afar! Rejoice, Thou Who ineffably gavest birth to the Light: Rejoice, Thou Who didst reveal Thy secret to none! Rejoice, Thou Who surpassest the knowledge of the wise: Rejoice, Thou Who givest light to the minds of the faithful! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, branch of an Unfading Sprout: Rejoice, acquisition of Immortal Fruit! Rejoice, laborer that laborest for the Lover of mankind: Rejoice, Thou Who givest birth to the Planter of our life! Rejoice, cornland yielding a rich crop of mercies: Rejoice, table bearing a wealth of forgiveness! Rejoice, Thou Who makest to bloom the garden of delight: Rejoice, Thou Who preparest a haven for souls! Rejoice, acceptable incense of intercession: Rejoice, propitiation of all the world! Rejoice, good will of God to men: Rejoice, boldness of men before God! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, Mother of the Lamb and the Shepherd: Rejoice, fold of rational sheep! Rejoice, torment of invisible enemies: Rejoice, opening of the gates of Paradise! Rejoice, for the things of Heaven rejoice with the earth: Rejoice, for the things of earth join chorus with the heavens! Rejoice, never-silent mouth of the Apostles: Rejoice, invincible courage of the passion-bearers! Rejoice, firm support of faith: Rejoice, radiant token of Grace! Rejoice, Thou through whom hades was stripped bare:Rejoice, Thou through whom we are clothed with glory! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, Mother of the Unsetting Star: Rejoice, dawn of the mystic day! Rejoice, Thou Who didst extinguish the furnace of error: Rejoice, Thou Who didst enlighten the initiates of the Trinity! Rejoice, Thou Who didst banish from power the inhuman tyrant: Rejoice, Thou Who didst show us Christ the Lord, the Lover of mankind! Rejoice, Thou Who redeemest from pagan worship: Rejoice, Thou Who dost drag us from the works of mire! Rejoice, Thou Who didst quench the worship of fire: Rejoice, Thou Who rescuest from the flame of the passions! Rejoice, guide of the faithful to chastity: Rejoice, gladness of all generations! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, uplifting of men: Rejoice, downfall of demons! Rejoice, Thou who didst trample down the dominion of delusion: Rejoice, Thou who didst unmask the fraud of idols! Rejoice, sea that didst drown the Pharaoh of the mind: Rejoice, rock that doth refresh those thirsting for life! Rejoice, pillar of fire that guideth those in darkness: Rejoice, shelter of the world broader than a cloud! Rejoice, sustenance replacing manna: Rejoice, minister of holy delight! Rejoice, land of promise: Rejoice, Thou from whom floweth milk and honey! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, flower of incorruptibility: Rejoice, crown of continence! Rejoice, Thou from whom shineth the Archetype of the Resurrection: Rejoice, Thou Who revealest the life of the angels! Rejoice, tree of shining fruit, whereby the faithful are nourished: Rejoice, tree of goodly shade by which many are sheltered! Rejoice, Thou that has carried in Thy womb the Redeemer of captivesRejoice, Thou that gavest birth to the Guide of those astray! Rejoice, supplication before the Righteous Judge: Rejoice, forgiveness of many sins! Rejoice, robe of boldness for the naked: Rejoice, love that doth vanquish all desire! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride! Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, container of the Uncontainable God: Rejoice, door of solemn mystery! Rejoice, report doubtful to unbelievers: Rejoice, undoubted boast of the faithful! Rejoice, all-holy chariot of Him Who sitteth upon the Cherubim: Rejoice, all-glorious temple of Him Who is above the Seraphim! Rejoice, Thou Who hast united opposites:Rejoice, Thou Who hast joined virginity and motherhood! Rejoice, Thou through whom transgression hath been absolved: Rejoice, Thou through whom Paradise is opened! Rejoice, key to the kingdom of Christ: Rejoice, hope of eternal good things! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Rejoice, receptacle of the Wisdom of God: Rejoice, treasury of His Providence! Rejoice, Thou Who showest philosophers to be fools: Rejoice, Thou Who exposest the learned as irrational! Rejoice, for the clever critics have become foolish: Rejoice, for the writers of myths have faded away! Rejoice, Thou Who didst rend the webs of the Athenians:Rejoice, Thou Who didst fill the nets of the fishermen! Rejoice, Thou Who drawest us from the depths of ignorance: Rejoice, Thou Who enlightenest many with knowledge! Rejoice, ship for those who wish to be saved: Rejoice, harbor for sailors on the sea of life! Rejoice, O Unwedded Bride!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O GLORIOUS Queen of the heavenly host, we beseech you accept this rosary, which, as a crown of roses, we offer at your feet; and grant, most gracious Lady, that, by your intercession, our souls may be inflamed with so ardent a desire of seeing you so gloriously crowned, that it may never die within us, until it shall be changed into the happy fruition of your blessed sight. Amen.

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This is the final mystery of the traditional 15 Decade Rosary. On Sunday I will be posting the “Concluding prayers” together with an  essay on the manner of using this devotion.  But after that, I will do a series on the Luminous Mysteries recommended for use by the late Pope John Paul II.  

The Rosary: Our Lady’s Death and Assumption

Here, at last, is one place where the Romans and the Orthodox might differ in the Rosary – although as recently as the middle of the last century this was not so. When I was a freshman in High School I found at a used bookstore, a book on the Apparitions of Our Lady. It was certainly Roman Catholic, including the stories of Knock, the Miraculous Medal, Lourdes, etc.  It started with a Vita, a Life of the Blessed Virgin and included the stories of her birth and the Presentation in the Temple, of Joseph’s miraculous rod and the like. And in the end it told of her death: how the Apostles had been drawn from all the ends of the world to witness her death, and how Thomas was not there. How when he arrived, three days later, John took him to the tomb and it was empty: filled with the scent of roses.

This is, essentially, also the Orthodox story of the Life, Death, and Assumption of the Virgin. It is painted in many icons and many western painting (see below for an image by Giotto).

For some Romans, today, however, Mary did not die. How could she? Since she had never sinned and was free of “original sin” (not an Orthodox teaching per se) how could she be subject to death? Death is the punishment for sin! This is not the case with all Catholics. The New Advent Catholic Encyclopaedia makes that clear in the articles on Mary and on her Assumption. Both articles refer to her death. So, again, I’m only talking about some Roman Catholics. I’ve even heard one Catholic Priest use the Orthodox Title for this feast (“Dormition” or “Falling Asleep”) as proof that we don’t believe she died either: it’s a “process so unlike death”, he said, that we “call it a falling asleep”. Of course, as we know from Orthodox Teaching, for all Christians, death is now only Falling Asleep in the Lord. We will all do it: Just as Mary did.

This Mystery is, thus, a meditation on our own death and a realization that the fear of death is needless as death is but a gateway to victory. In his death, Jesus has turned death into only more life. And so for us, if we die in Christ, we are more alive. As the Mass for the Dead (Western Rite) says, “Tuis enim fidelibus, Domine, vita mutatur, non tollitur: et dissoluta terrestris hujus incolatus domo, aeterna in coelis habitatio comparatur.” For to thy faithful people, Lord, life is changed, not taken away; and when the home of this earthly sojourn is dissolved, an eternal dwelling is made ready in heaven.

I have chosen verses from the Feast of the Dormition. For an embolism I usually say, “Fruit of thy womb, Jesus assuming thee, body and soul, into heaven.

The Fourth Glorious Mystery:
The Death and Assumption of Our Lady

 LET us contemplate, in this Mystery, how the glorious Virgin, twelve years after the resurrection of Her Son, passed out of this world unto Him, and was by Him assumed into heaven, accompanied by the holy Angels.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

It was fitting for the eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word to see the Dormition of his Mother according to the flesh, the final mystery concerning her, that they might not only see the Ascension of the Saviour from the earth, but also be witnesses to the Translation from earth of her who bore him.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

She who is higher than the heavens, more glorious than Cherubim and greater in honour than creation, who through her surpassing purity became the vessel of the eternal one, today places in the hands of her Son her all-holy soul. With her the universe is filled with joy and to us is given his great mercy.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The all-blameless Bride and Mother of the Father’s Good Pleasure, who was foreordained by God as his dwelling in a dwelling in a union without confusion, today delivers her immaculate soul to her Maker and God. The angelic powers receive her in a manner fitting God, and she, who is indeed Mother of life, passes over to life, the lamp of the unapproachable Light, the salvation of the faithful, the hope of our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Come, all the ends of the earth, let us call blessed the Dormition of the Theotokos. She has placed her unblemished soul in the hands of her Son. Therefore the world, restored to life by her holy Falling Asleep, celebrates the feast with the angelic hosts and the Apostles.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Come now, on Zion, the holy and living mountain of the living God, let us be glad as gazing on the Theotokos.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Come, you faithful, let us approach the tomb of the Theotokos, and let us embrace it, touching it sincerely with the lips, eyes and brows of the heart; and let us draw abundant gifts of healing, which flow from an ever-owing fount.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Receive from us this burial hymn, O Theotokos; and overshadow us with thy light-bearing and divine grace. Grant victories and peace to the people that love Christ, and to us who sing in thy honour forgiveness and salvation of our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

At thy glorious Dormition the heavens rejoice and the Angels exult; the whole earth is glad uttering its funeral hymn to thee, Mother of the Master of all things, all-holy Virgin, who knew not wedlock, who have delivered the human race from the ancestral curse.
Hail, Mary, &c.

At a divine command the chief Apostles hastened from the ends of the earth to bury thee, and when they saw thee taken from the earth to heaven they cried out with joy in Gabriel’s words: Hail, chariot of the whole Godhead; hail, who alone by thy childbirth have joined together things on earth with those on high.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Virgin Mother, Bride of God, who gave birth to life, thou hast passed over to immortal life by thy holy Dormition. Angels, Rulers and Powers, Apostles, Prophets and all creation escorted thee, and thy Son received in his immaculate hands thine unblemished soul.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O MOST prudent Virgin who, entering the heavenly palaces, did fill the angels with joy and man with hope; vouchsafe to intercede for us at the hour of our death, that, being delivered from the illusions and temptations of the devil, we may joyfully and securely pass out of this temporal state, to enjoy the happiness of eternal life. Amen.

The Rosary: Pentecost

The Mystery of Pentecost, the Out-Pouring of the Holy Ghost on the Apostles and all of Creation, is the beginning of the fruits of Christ’s actions among us. The Holy Ghost makes all of us divine if we will but let Him into our lives and reform, reshape, heal, cleanse, make whole what is shattered, make up what is lost, and in our weakness to fill us with strength.

This is my own parish’s feast day and why I answer anyone asking “What should we pray for?” with “Revival”. This is what my parish should be doing: holding the heavenly doors open for the continued outpouring of the Holy Ghost on us, on San Francisco, and on the world around us. But it is also what all of us should be doing as Christians.  As we are the Body of Christ and as Christ prays for the Father to send the Spirit so should we be likewise doing.  Not for some sort of Benny Hinnesque back-falling of moaning with our mouths flecked with foam.

But for salvation. Peace. Joy. Holiness. Love.  Against these the only thing standing is our refusal to pray.

The embolism I use is “sending us the Holy Ghost from his father.

The texts I’ve woven in below come from the Vespers and Matins for Pentecost.

The Third Glorious Mystery:
The Coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost

LET us Contemplate in this Mystery, how Our Lord Jesus Christ, being seated on the right hand of God, sent, as He had promised, the Holy Ghost upon His Apostles, who, after He was ascended, returning to Jerusalem, continued in prayer and supplication with the blessed Virgin Mary, expecting the performance of His promise.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

Marvelous things have all the nations seen this day in the City of David, when the Holy Ghost came down in tongues of fire, as Luke, God’s mouthpiece, declared, saying: When Christ’s Disciples were assembled, there came a sound as of a mighty wind, filling the whole house where they were sitting; and all began to speak with strange words, new doctrines, wondrous teachings of the holy Trinity.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

The Holy Ghost always was, and is, and ever will be, with neither beginning nor end, but always together with the Father and the Son; life and giver of life; light and bestower of light; goodness itself and source of goodness; through whom the Father is known and the Son glorified and by all is known, one power, one order, one worship of the holy Trinity.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Holy Ghost is light and life a living and spiritual fountain to all. Spirit of wisdom, Spirit of understanding; good, right, spiritual, ruling all, and cleansing faults. God who makest us Divine; fire from fire, speaking, working, distributing the gifts of grace; through whom all the prophets and Apostles of God with the Martyrs have been crowned. Strange tidings, wondrous sight: fire divided in the distribution of gifts.
Hail, Mary, &c.

In sending down thy Spirit, Lord, to the Apostles as they were sitting, then the children of the Hebrews saw it and were beside themselves with amazement; for they were hearing them speaking in other, strange tongues, as the Holy Ghost gave utterance; for though simple, they were made wise; and having caught the nations in thy net, the Apostles preached things divine. We also cry out to thee in joy: Thou hast appeared on earth saving us; Glory to thee, O Lord!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Once tongues were darkened because of the presumption of building the tower; but now tongues are enlightened through the glory of the knowledge of God. There God condemned the impious for their offence; here Christ has enlightened the fishermen with the Holy Ghost. Then discord was wrought as punishment; now concord is renewed for the salvation of our souls.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Blessed art thou, Christ our God, who hast revealed the fishermen to be most wise by sending down to them the Holy Ghost, and through them thou hast drawn the world in thy net: Lover of mankind, glory to thee!
Hail, Mary, &c.

When the Most High came down and confused the tongues, he parted the nations; when he divided out the tongues of fire, he called all to unity, and with one voice we glorify the All-holy Spirit.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Holy Ghost gives all things: making prophecies flow, perfecting priests, teaching the unlettered wisdom, revealing the fishermen to be theologians, welding together the whole body of the Church. Consubstantial and equal in majesty with the Father and the Son, our Advocate, glory to thee!
Hail, Mary, &c.

We have seen the true light, we have received the heavenly Spirit, we have found the true faith, worshiping the undivided Trinity, who hast saved us.
Hail, Mary, &c.

O Heavenly King, the Comforter and Spirit of Truth! Who art everywhere present and fillest all things. Treasury of Blessings and Giver of Life, come and abide in us, and cleanse us from every impurity and save our souls, O Good One!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O SACRED Virgin, Tabernacle of the Holy Ghost ! we beseech you obtain, by yours intercession, that this most sweet Comforter, whom your beloved Son sent down upon His Apostles, filling them thereby with spiritual joy, may teach us in this world the true way of salvation, and make us to walk in the path of virtue and good works. Amen.

The Rosary: The Ascension

Our Lord’s Ascension is the first evidence that the “key has changed” as I noted in the last mystery: the Eastern liturgical texts speak of how amazed the Angels are at seeing one of our race of men entering into the Heavens.  The Psalm text, “Who is this king of glory?” is read as the angels asking each other “Look! Who is this? Who comes here? Who?”

It’s a mortal man now immortal and a divine being now dead and alive again.

The King of All the Ages, by gift of his Father, is one of us.

And there is no “one of us” there is only “All of Us”.  As in Adam, all die: even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The embolism I use is “the incarnate Word of God ascending to His Father’s throne.”

The Second Glorious Mystery:
The Ascension of Christ

LET us contemplate, in this Mystery, how Our Lord Jesus Christ, forty days after His resurrection, ascended into heaven, attended by angels, in the sight, and to the great admiration of His most holy Mother, and His holy Apostles and Disciples. Our Father, etc.

Our Father Who art in Heaven, hallowed be Thy Name; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen

The choirs of Angels were astounded when they saw Christ, the mediator between God and mankind in the highest with his flesh, while with one voice they sang a hymn of victory. To God, who appeared on mount Sinai and gave the law to Moses, who saw God, and who was taken up in the flesh from the mount of Olives, let us all sing; for gloriously he has been glorified.
Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee; Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

O Christ, Giver of life, lover of humankind, thou wentest up to the Father and exalted our race in thine ineffable compassion. The ranks of Angels, as they saw thy mortal nature going up, O Saviour, were astounded and without ceasing sang thy praise.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The choirs of Angels were amazed, O Christ, as they saw thee being taken up with thy body, and they sang the praise of your holy Ascension. Human nature, which had fallen by corruption, thou didst raise, O Christ, and by thine ascension thou hast exalted and glorified us with thyself.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Lift up the heavenly gates, for see, Christ the King and Lord, wearing his earthly body, is at hand, said the powers below to those above. When thou soughtest Adam, who had been led astray by the deceit of the serpent, O Christ, as thou hadst clothed thyself in him, thou ascendedst and took thy seat as equal sovereign on the Father’s right hand, while the Angels sang thy praise.
Hail, Mary, &c.

As the Saviour had ascended to the Father with his flesh, the hosts of Angels were struck with amazement, and cried out: Glory, O Christ, to thine ascension! The angelic Powers cried out to those above: Lift up the gates for Christ, our King; whose praise we sing, together with the Father and the Spirit.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Jesus the Giver of life, taking those he loved, ascended the mount of Olives and blessed them and, riding on a cloud, he came to the Father’s bosom, which he had never left. The whole world, visible and invisible, keeps the feast with gladness; Angels and humans leap for joy as they glorify without ceasing the Ascension of the One who by his goodness was united to us in the flesh.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Thou didst fill the universe with gladness, merciful Lord, taking thy place in mortal flesh among the powers on high. The angelic powers, seeing thee thus lifted up, cried out: Lift up the gates for our King!
Hail, Mary, &c.

Strange was thy Birth, strange thy Resurrection, strange and fearful thy divine Ascension from the mount, O Giver of life, of which Elias was an icon when he went up in a four-horse chariot, singing thy praise, O Lover of Mankind.
Hail, Mary, &c.

The Angels came and cried out, O Christ, to thy Disciples: In the same way ye have seen Christ going up, he will come in the flesh as just Judge of all.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Appearing in the flesh, thou didst join in one things that were formerly separated, O Lover of mankind; and as thy Disciples watched, O Merciful, thou wert taken up to the heavenly places. Why are the garments red of the One who was united to the solidity of flesh? said the holy Angels, as they saw Christ bearing the divine marks of his precious passion.
Hail, Mary, &c.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

O MOTHER Of God, comforter of the afflicted as your beloved Son, when He ascended into heaven, lifted up His hands and blessed His Apostles as He was parted from them; so vouchsafe, most holy Mother, to lift up your pure hands to Him on our behalf, that we may enjoy the benefits of His blessing, and of yours, here on earth, and hereafter in heaven Amen.

Introduction to the Glorious Mysteries

The Glorious Mysteries are the key to the entire Rosary:

  1. The Resurrection of Our Lord
  2. The Ascension of our Lord
  3. The Coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost
  4. The Assumption of Our Lady
  5. The Coronation of Our Lady

The rest of the Rosary is meaningless without these Mysteries.  Our Lord’s life and death are in vain without his Resurrection. St Paul, in fact, says the entirety of the Christian teaching is meaningless without this.

The story is told of the filming of the T.V. miniseries, Jesus of Nazareth, that after filming the crucifixion, the cast felt they were finished because that was so powerful a moment. Someone said, “Hey, shouldn’t there be a Resurrection somewhere?”  I think this is apocryphal because most works are not film in a chronological sequence, but rather based on outdoor and indoor shoot schedules and the availability of studio space and special effects resources.  But the story does point out the modern error that the crucifixion, itself, is the focus of the story.

Neither, point of fact, is the resurrection: but rather the Entirety of the Life of Christ from his action in the creation of the world to the the prophetic foreknowledge of the prophets, from his incarnation in the Virgin’s womb to his institution of the Holy Eucharist, from his Crucifixion to the Descent of the Holy Ghost, and finally to his action in the life of the Church, his Body, today. This is the ongoing action of salvation: we can no more point at one point in time as “the event of salvation” than we can point to magical words in the Eucharistic Canon as “the exact moment of consecration.”  As the late canon Edward West once said of the Eucharist, so it is for the life of the world: “We do not know when Christ enters in and we can not reach in and pull him out again.”

Christ is saving you right now, if you are willing to participate in the on-going action of your salvation.

The Glorious Mysteries show us what should be the crowning glories of our life as Christians: as our Lord Rises, so do we. As our Lord prays the holy Spirit down on the world from his Father, so do the saints continue to pray God’s grace into the world. As the Blessed Virgin is crowned, so are will we, by God’s grace, reign with her in Heaven.

But as with Christ, so with us: it is the entirety of the action of our life that becomes the actualization of Salvation.  We cannot be crowned without being conceived, we cannot rise without dying.  The Rosary of Our Blessed Lady shows us that the entirety of life has been sanctified: and that we are called to live in that on-going sanctification.  The Natural Order of life can be broken by us, yes: but we can also live into it and offer it to God in a great Eucharistic action.